Food plays a distinctive role in terms of promoting the development of differentiated functions of the various organs of the human body. However, factors such as the nature of the diet and the associated consumption trends significantly influence the ability of the body to control different conditions and diseases. Differentiated food products have flooded the food market in the last three to five decades.
The situation has led to the emergence of unhealthy consumption trends that have led to serious health implications. The obesity epidemic has become a puzzle for many people across nations and continents. Characterized by life-threatening overweight, the condition poses an untold number of health consequences.
The ever-revolutionizing eating habits have led to unending debates concerning the obesity epidemic owing to the heavy consumption of junk foods that are available in various fast-food outlets. Undoubtedly, obesity rates have increased globally, with considerable discrepancies among different nations. Members of diverse civil societies and health campaigners have linked this situation to the pervasive increase of fast-food eateries.
This essay gives an insight into the extent to which fast foods are responsible for obesity. It begins by showing the link between fast foods and obesity before proceeding to investigate how fast-food calories differ from the caloric contents of other homemade foods.
Fast Foods and Obesity
Currie et al. (2009) reveal that civil society has censured the gradual development of fast-food eateries in the last few decades as the major cause towards obesity. People have changed their consumption habits significantly owing to the encroachment of fast foods in the food market. This situation has compelled many people to believe that the abundance of junk foods in fast-food restaurants bears a crucial responsibility in terms of causing obesity.
For some reasons, this assumption is justifiable. Jaworowska et al. (2013) indicate that the increasing necessity for cheaply made cookeries at local fast-food outlets reveals a strong connection between the intake of high amounts of calories and obesity. The study unveils that the chances of developing an increased Body Mass Index (BMI) is higher where individuals take foods from fast-food eateries.
Individuals who take their meals from fast-food outlets once to thrice occasions weekly escalate their fat contents from between 23-percent to 55-percent depending on their prevailing health conditions. Fast foods contain relatively larger proportions of calories that increase the BMI of an individual compared to foods that are prepared from home. In addition, fast foods contain low levels of nutrients that lead to dietary imbalances.
Scientifically, high caloric foods that contain low nutrients amplify the BMI of an individual. The increase of the BMI leads to needless weight gain that in due course results in obesity. Obesity is an unhealthy condition that is linked to the accumulation of high quantities of calories, sugars, and fats in the body. Typically, the condition serves as a prerequisite for other lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure (Chandon & Wansink 2007).
Fast-Food Caloric Content and Weight Status of an Individual
The amount of calories consumed by individuals varies greatly depending on their weight statuses, both in children and adults. According to Kruger et al. (2014), the overall effect of daily calorie intake from fast-food restaurants increases the chances of being obese as the weight of an individual increase.
Research conducted Kruger et al. (2014) to determine the correlation between caloric content and weight statuses of a sample size of 100 obese adults indicated that 74-percent of them had taken a relatively high amount of calories from fast-food outlets. The overall effect of taking high caloric content increased the BMI of such overweight individuals. They became obese within the first one year of their frequent visiting of fast-food restaurants.
The weight of individuals is highly subjective to the quantities of calories that they expend on their bodies. Marlow and Shiers (2012) posit that foods from fast-food restaurants have a higher density of calories.
The study by Marlow and Shiers (2012) revealed that fast foods contain more quantities of calories, fat, and sugar contents in relation to domestically prepared foods. The levels of caloric contents reveal the increased BMI of regular visitors of fast-food eateries. Consequently, increased BMI implies amplified obesity.
Globalization of the Food Market
As the world globalizes, the food market also transforms. Globalization influences the type of food available in fast-food shops. It implies a significant change in the kind of food assortments, the environment in which the foods are prepared, and the technologies that are used to prepare them.
Kruger et al. (2014) claim that economic and social maneuvers to match with globalized food markets have resulted in the expansion and diversification of fast-food outlets. The differentiation of fast-food deliveries has led to a globalized lifestyle owing to time, socio-economic, and environmental constrictions. The increase of fast-food business with globalization has led to amplified cases of obesity.
According to Chandon and Wansink (2007), the prevalence of obesity cases can be linked to the density of fast-food eateries and the associated fast-food prices that have been modified because of the globalization of food markets. The overall effect of globalization is the availability of cheap food materials.
On a different dimension, the nature of fast-food eating environments has led to indecision about eating time, standard portions, and quantities of consumption. In a time series analysis, one can easily judge that diet indecision closely correlates with increased obesity in an individual.
Urbanization and Diet
People have resorted to urban lives. Presently, nearly 50-percent of the global population has inhabited the world’s cities. Urbanization is associated with ‘urban’ foods and heavily built environments. Most of the world’s fast-food outlets, which are located in urban areas, lead to the provision of the worst diets (Viola et al. 2013). Indeed, urban areas are congested with more fast-food chains that offer high-calorie foods than any other place on earth.
However, people underestimate the health predicaments that accompany unhealthy consumption of ‘urban’ foods that eventually lead to obesity. Also, owing to the nature of jobs, traffic, time, and environment among other factors that result in social and economic shortcomings, individuals consider fast foods their alternative meals, especially during lunch periods.
Mass media promotes fast foods such as junk snacks and beverages through advertisements. Scientific findings from a study by Van Boxtel, Klijin, and Thio (2008) indicate that fast-food consumption is relatively high in urban areas about a similar number of populations in rural localities. As a result, urbanization has led to the adoption of poor diets that compare with a proportionate number of obesity cases.
As technology advances, many nations have moved to knowledge-based economies. In particular, the advancement of food technology has led to innovative means of production that has, in turn, resulted in diversification of fast foods. Food technology bears the responsibility of processed foods (Jepsen et al. 2013). Processed foods have eased the availability of a plethora of high-calorie food products.
The use of food technology has encountered a lot of criticism as civil societies hold manufacturers responsible for the processed foods that contain high-calorie contents. Technology has allowed companies to invest in a variety of production techniques that have led to the packaging of ready-to-eat food products.
Unfortunately, the food industry has met numerous challenges such as the setting and management of production environments, inhibition of food degeneration, and balancing of dietary requirements for any processed foods. However, regardless of the attempts to meet all the production requirements, many companies have failed to deliver low-calorie fast foods in the market.
As a result, the fast-food market has become a pool of foods that have high levels of calories. From infrequent to habitual patterns of consuming these foods, the rate of obesity has increased (Schrempf 2014)
Revolutionized Lifestyle and Obesity
However, the claim about the correlation between fast foods and obesity is insufficient to justify that the differentiation of fast foods and fast-food markets is the dominating cause of the increasing rate of obesity cases (Currie et al. 2009).
Currie et al. (2009) hypothesize that the availability of fast-food eateries and the chances of individuals purchasing unhealthy packages of junk food make insignificant differences in their health if they consume similar meals in their homes. In this sense, obesity is attributed more to lifestyle dietary habits as opposed to the consumption of junk foods in fast-food restaurants.
Individuals around the globe have abandoned traditional health lifestyles to modernized and diverse ways of living. The abundance of fast foods and fast-food outlets is a prerequisite for unhealthy diets. Nevertheless, the time factor, laziness, leisure, and peer influence, among other factors lead individuals of different age groups to adopt unhealthy consumptions trends that are costly in the long-term.
The availability of fast foods in shops, cafeterias, canteens, and even supermarkets among other outlets tempts individuals to purchase readily made foods even with the possession of knowledge about the presence of intolerable caloric aggregates in such foods (Marlow & Shiers 2012).
The intolerable part of lifestyle habits is evident where individuals take huge chunks of calories after which they engage in virtual rather than physical activities. Recent research conducted by Poti, Duffey, and Popkin (2014) revealed that most individuals, especially the young generation, rarely engage in physical exercises. With the age of technology, people have found it easy to do most of their businesses online.
For instance, a person may find it easy to shop goods online and have them delivered at the doorstep. Similarly, a child or an adult may find it more entertaining to play a soccer video game on a television screen than doing it in reality. Regardless of how many times an individual visits a local fast-food restaurant, the consumption of heavy caloric meals and little or meaningless physical exercise increases the chances of obesity.
In this context, it does not matter whether an individual takes food that has been prepared at home or a local fast-food eatery. Therefore, obesity is a lifestyle disease that links to the consumption of unhealthy diets and ignorance of physical activities such as walking, dancing, biking, and swimming, among other outdoor leisure activities.
These activities enhance crucial bodily functions such as metabolic processes that facilitate the breakdown of calories that accumulate in the body. Consequently, individuals should desist from consuming needless calories by avoiding fast foods. This practice will greatly reduce the rate of calorie intake and eventually minimize the risk of becoming obese.
Many researchers have done innumerable studies to determine the exact cause of obesity. Regardless of the existence of fast foods, the precise combinations of causative factors that lead to obese individuals have left many researchers in a dilemma. Health scientists, doctors, and the public have censured the existence of fast-food outlets as a superior contribution of increased BMI in different individuals.
However, this claim remains fallacious as long as individuals have generally altered their consumption lifestyles even at homes. Some obese conditions begin with varying consumption habits at homes and the feeling that parents should fulfill the needs of their children by purchasing whatever food materials they demand.
Notwithstanding the relationship between fast foods and BMI increase, there is a need for initiating restrictions on the establishment and management of fast-food outlets as the obesity epidemic has become a health predicament amongst adults, teenagers, and children of different age groups.
Health departments should empower families, especially mothers, to embrace health consumption trends that minimize the levels of calorie content in cooked foods. Individuals also need encouragement to curtail fast-food habits as they contribute to obese conditions. Nonetheless, regardless of the abundant nature of fast foods, individual responsibility is the only way towards the prevention of obesity and related diseases.
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